The Los Angeles Clippers clash with the Phoenix Suns for a spot in the NBA Finals. Terance Mann and the Clippers erased a 25-point deficit to reach the Western Conference Finals after beating the Jazz 131-119 in Game 6 on Friday while the Suns swept the Nuggets and haven’t played since last Sunday.
Kawhi Leonard injured his knee in Game 4 against the Jazz and some fear that he is dealing with an ACL injury. Leonard’s status against the Suns is questionable and Chris Paul has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and is out indefinitely. Leonard and Paul were having playoffs for the ages! Who will step to replace each star? Kawhi’s unfortunate injury opened the door for Terance Mann’s coming out party!
It was next man up for the Clippers. With Kawhi out, they put the offense in Paul George’s hands and they’re headed to the Western Conference Finals for the first time ever. Terance Mann, Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum all shined as a direct result of the attention George drew as the lead offensive weapon.
The Utah defense suffocated PG-13 always found the open man. George is such a natural playmaker. He kept the dribble alive, had great vision and awareness plus timing. Finding shooters open when he needs to. Mann benefitted from this and finished with a career-high 39 points on 15 of 21 shooting and 7 of 10 from beyond the arc on Friday, Paul George had 28 points, seven assists and three steals and Reggie Jackson added 27 points, 10 assists and three steals.
Team to Win (Regular Time)
• Los Angeles Clippers: 2.96
• Phoenix Suns: 1.45
• Los Angeles Clippers: +5.5 (1.94)
• Phoenix Suns: -5.5 (1.87)
• Over 223.5 (1.87)
• Under 223.5 (1.94)
Key Points to Consider
The Suns haven’t displayed any weakness. They’re a deep, versatile team. Deandre Ayton has elevated his play, Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson are two-way threats, Cameron Payne turned around his career admirably and is now one of the best reserve players in the league, Jae Crowder sparks the entire team and is a great veteran leader and head coach Monty Williams has a unique connection with his players and is one of the smartest at his position. And last but certainly not least is Devin Booker, who is proving to be a superstar.
After scoring 47 points in Game 6 against the Lakers, Booker put 34 on the Nuggets on Sunday in the second closeout game of his career. Booker’s style is advanced, polished, smooth and calm. He has a supreme skillset and he’s a legit three-level scorer with a great feel for taking a game over.
George did his part for the Clippers in Game 1 on Sunday with 34 points, five assists and four rebounds and Reggie Jackson added 24 points but Terance Mann regressed and had just nine points in 27 minutes, though he was 3-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. The Clippers need Mann to be more aggressive, he can’t attempt just four shots again, they need more from him.
Booker got his first career triple-double in Game 1 after dropping 40 points with 13 rebounds and 11 assists and Deandre Ayton also stepped up with 20 points and nine rebounds. Four other Suns players scored in double figures and it will be extremely tough to beat this team if Booker is the best player on the court every night. Game 2 against the Suns will take place on Tuesday at 9:00 PM ET at Phoenix Suns Arena.
For the Clippers, Paul George is projected to finish with 27.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists, making 9.5 field goals in 21.3 attempts.
For the Suns, Devin Booker is expected to score 29.6 points with 6.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds, making 10.1 field goals in 20.9 attempts.
Two-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend pick on the total in this one. Average score in simulations is Phoenix Suns 115.5 to Los Angeles Clippers 114.0.
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